Understanding and Mitigating the Risks of Open Access for Scholarly Societies

This is the sixth and final in a series of posts about each of the teams that will be attending SCI 2018, and their projects. This one was submitted by Marcel LaFlamme.

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Scholarly societies have a vested interest in making the knowledge that their members produce accessible to a broad range of publics. Yet many societies depend on subscription revenue from the publications they sponsor, along with membership dues and conference fees, to support organizational activities. In recent years, rank-and-file scholars have begun to champion open-access publication models, in concert with librarians whose budgets have been stretched thin by unsustainable increases in journal pricing. But societies have been more reluctant to embrace open access, viewing it as a risky departure from a working business model in the midst of uncertainty on other fronts.

Our team aims to take an inventory of those perceived risks with respect to two peer societies, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and the Canadian Anthropology Society/Société Canadienne d’Anthropologie (CASCA), and to explore possible strategies for mitigating them. Since 2008, the AAA has contracted with the commercial publisher Wiley to publish its portfolio of twenty-two journals on a subscription basis, while experimenting with open access on a limited scale. The University of Toronto Press has published CASCA’s flagship journal, Anthropologica, on a subscription basis since 2013. But the shifting landscape of scholarly publishing—and, in CASCA’s case, new funding priorities at Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council—has compelled society leadership to consider open futures.

In 2015, the open-access publishing cooperative Libraria was formed out of a desire to develop alternatives to the existing ecology of scholarly communication. Over the past three years, Libraria has worked to develop a financial and organizational model for flipping journals in anthropology, archaeology, and adjacent fields to open access without relying on article processing charges (APCs). Under this model, libraries would redirect subscription payments for participating journals to a transparently governed cooperative comprised of societies and other key stakeholders, which would publish the journals on a not-for-profit, open-access basis. Both the AAA and CASCA have expressed interest in this model, but thus far neither society has committed itself to taking part.

Over the course of the 2018 Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute, our team aims to address the following questions:

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  • What financial, operational, and cultural risks would moving toward open access pose for scholarly societies like the AAA and CASCA? How can open-access advocates more fully apprehend these risks?
  • Are there risks for societies like the AAA and CASCA in not moving toward open access? In other words, are the existing publishing models for these two societies likely to remain viable into the future? In the context of broader shifts toward open data and open infrastructure, how might decisions made today about access to content result in path dependencies in other areas?
  • What other actors have a stake in mitigating the risks of open access for scholarly societies? How might they be enlisted in doing so? What forms of support would be useful, and how could they be structured such that societies could rely on them?
  • Does the Libraria model, as it is currently formulated, mitigate the risks of open access for the AAA and CASCA? If not, then how could the model be refined or further specified? What other social and technical infrastructures might be required?
  • How do the answers to these questions map onto the actually existing governance structures of these societies? What role would sections, committees, boards, and society staff need to play in moving toward open access?

Our team sees the Institute as a rare opportunity for open-access advocates and society leadership to spend time together in an unhurried, low-pressure setting, building trust and working through differences. We also see the inclusion of a representative from a leading research library as essential to understanding how libraries see their own role in the scholarly communication landscape changing. By structuring our team in this way, we hope to elaborate a process for discovery and deliberation that can help other societies and the communities they serve to push past a shared sense of impasse.

Team Members

Anna Agbe-Davies is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She chairs the Anthropological Communication Committee of the American Anthropological Association and serves on the association’s Executive Board.

Alberto Corsín Jiménez is Reader in Social Anthropology at the Spanish National Research Council and a member of the Executive Committee (as well as co-founder) of Libraria. He researches and writes on free culture and open-source activism, with a focus on architecture and participatory urbanism.

Ellen Dubinsky is the incoming Scholarly Communication Librarian at the University of Arizona Libraries. For over a decade, she has been involved in promoting open-access publishing, managing institutional repositories, and facilitating the publication of titles including the Journal of International Women’s StudiesJournal of Cape Verdean Studies, and International Journal of Cybersecurity Intelligence and Cybercrime.

Marcel LaFlamme is Visiting Scholar in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Washington and Managing Editor of Cultural Anthropology, the only journal currently published on an open-access basis by the American Anthropological Association. He is a member of the Executive Committee of Libraria, and previously served as a community college library director.

Caura Wood is an energy anthropologist working in Calgary, Alberta. She is a former treasurer of the Canadian Anthropology Society/Société Canadienne d’Anthropologie and now co-chairs the society’s Open Access Working Group.

Next Steps

Our team envisions sharing the results of our participation in the Institute both within the discipline of anthropology and beyond. We will present detailed reports on our work to the executive boards of the two societies and identify point persons to coordinate next steps. This may include a working session at the joint annual meeting of the two societies, which is scheduled for November 2019. We will also report out to key members and staff at the Association of Research Libraries, which is considering what role it can play in catalyzing an open-access transition in targeted disciplines.

In a more public-facing vein, we will develop a freely available toolkit on understanding and mitigating the risks of open access for scholarly societies, drawing on our experiences leading up to and at the Institute. Not every society can send a team to Triangle SCI, so we want to distill the process that we develop and some of our lessons learned into a portable format that can be used to guide discussions in other settings. We plan to promote the toolkit with blog posts in publications such as The Scholarly Kitchen or Associations Now.

[ Photos by Chris Barbalis, Yeshi Kangrang, and Leyre Labarga used under Unsplash free license. ]

Scholarly Communication in a Consumer-Licensed World: Understanding and Reducing the Legal Risk of Commercial Platforms for Popular Media

This is the fifth in a series of posts about each of the teams that will be attending SCI 2018, and their projects. This one was submitted by Will Cross.

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A Consumer-Licensed World

“Can I teach the film Black Panther in my American History course?” “We’re looking to archive tweets from the #MeToo movement.” “How do violent images in video games correlate to global rates of gun violence?” Questions like these animate instruction, librarianship, and scholarship every day, but each requires use of third party materials that creates legal risk that can be hard to understand and even more challenging to quantify. Traditionally scholars, librarians, and others in the academy have relied on a suite of legal exceptions that explicitly permit performance, analysis, and archiving of cultural materials. Grounded in the Copyright Act and in two centuries of common law, these exceptions have historically made the socially-valuable practice of scholarly communication safe and often quite simple. In recent years, however, changing technology and legal uncertainty have made navigating these questions seem to be one of the most risky things a scholar can do.

Scholarly communication relies on a stable set of legal rules and practices grounded in clarity about ownership and lawful use for close reading, library collecting, and scholarly analysis. With the rise of digital media, scholars and librarians have worked to navigate acquisition and use of licensed digital materials where there is no physical artifact to own. In particular, librarians have developed sophisticated practices for negotiating licenses that aim to recreate the open space needed for scholarly communication to thrive. Many well-resourced institutions have also brought legal experts into the library with a mandate to translate legal rules and practices for scholars working with digital and open materials.

In the recent years, however, access to music, film, television, and games has become mediated not just by database licenses, but by consumer-facing companies like Netflix, Spotify, and Steam that simply will not offer libraries a license at any price. Without reliance on the traditional body of copyright exceptions or any opportunity to negotiate, academics are forced to puzzle through licensing language that is silent or misaligned with scholarly communication, and to risk violating the terms of the agreement if they want to teach, analyze, or archive. Many scholars may have heard that penalties for copyright violation can be up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines even where there is no monetary profit. Separate penalties for breach of contract and even fear of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s anti-circumvention provision raise the stakes further. In light of these perceived dangers, text mining, archiving, and culturally-sustaining pedagogy can seem like they just aren’t worth the risk.

The current legal quagmire has left scholarly communication in a market stalemate. With no clear avenue to license this content, many libraries and scholars are unwilling to engage with these services, and those that do often feel compelled to do so sub rosa. In turn, this lack of visible engagement sustains the sense that the academic market is small enough to ignore, so no institutional license option is created. Because no one is at the table, no one will come to the table. Even if these companies did offer a license, reliance on a purely market-based solution carries its own set of risks. As we have seen with academic publishing, a scholarly communication system built on licenses from for-profit providers quickly becomes unsustainable when deprived of the necessary legal safety valves. A solution that reduced risk by creating a new “big deal” for consumer-licensed content would be no solution at all.

These issues are expected to come to a head in 2018. Congress is currently considering the Music Modernization Act, a bill that would rewrite many of the core assumptions about licensing in this area. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals is considering the ongoing Capitol v. ReDigi case, examining the question of how the first sale doctrine should be applied to digital materials. The law is about to change once again, and the academic community needs to take an active role in shaping that change as well as helping our peers understand and navigate it. As music, film, games, and even public communication are increasingly shared on commercial platforms governed by non-negotiable terms of use, the greatest risk would be to resign ourselves to this situation based on fear and misunderstanding, or to abdicate our role as advocates for a more sustainable legal and scholarly communication system. Public scholarship, open pedagogy, and archiving the culture of our lived experiences all require that we engage with these issues, and that engagement must not be limited to exclusively wealthy institutions that can afford to keep a full-time legal expert on staff.

Libraries, scholars, and instructors need clear guidance on the real risks and opportunities for their work in this new environment. To provide this guidance, this proposal brings together a team that can design resources to help individuals and institutions accurately calibrate the true level of risk and identify a path forward. This team has substantial experience in legal advocacy and is also prepared to develop a strategy for legislative and judicial action in support of scholarly communication. All members have deep legal expertise and roles that are focused on offering practical, actionable solutions. Members also have a strong track record of designing information and advocacy materials, from amicus briefs and Copyright Office RTC documents to local and national user-focused guides and best practices.

Individuals on the team have written and spoken on the issue in a variety of contexts. What is needed is the concentrated time to bring this cohort together to develop a plan and set of materials for offering guidance that helps users understand the real risk of engaging with consumer-licensed materials and platforms, as well as a strategy to advocate for a clearer, more open copyright system that supports, rather than undermines, academic values and practices.

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Team Members

  • Kyle K. Courtney is the Copyright Advisor for Harvard University, working out of the Office for Scholarly Communication. He works closely with Harvard Library to establish a culture of shared understanding of copyright issues among Harvard staff, faculty, and students. His work at Harvard also includes a role as the copyright and information policy advisor for HarvardX/edX. His “Copyright First Responders” initiative was profiled in Library Journal in 2013, and he was named a National Academic Library Mover & Shaker in 2015. In 2014, he founded Fair Use Week, now an international celebration sponsored annually by over 80 universities, libraries, and other institutions.
  • Will Cross is the the Director of the Copyright & Digital Scholarship Center in the NCSU Libraries and an instructor in the UNC School of Information and Library Science. Trained as a lawyer and librarian, he guides policy, speaks, and writes on open culture and navigating legal uncertainty. As presenter coordinator for the ACRL Scholarly Communication Roadshow, he has developed training materials and led workshops for international audiences from Ontario to Abu Dhabi. His research focuses on legal frameworks that support open culture and he currently serves as PI on two IMLS-funded projects on support for OER and open pedagogy. He currently serves as a SPARC Open Education Leadership Fellow and an OER Research Fellow for the Open Research Group.
  • Eric Harbeson is Music Special Collections Librarian in the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, and curates the American Music Research Center’s collections. He holds master’s degrees from Cleveland State University (music history) and the University of Illinois (library and information science).  His research interests include copyright and information policy (especially with respect to libraries), the use of emerging technologies in archives applications, and early music notation.  His edition of the Motecta (1590) by Orazio Vecchi (with co-editor William R. Martin) was published in 2013.  He has performed as a percussionist with several local organizations, including the Ars Nova Singers, the Denver Early Music Consort, and the Seicento Baroque Ensemble.
  • Carrie Russell is the director of the Program on Public Access to Information in the Washington Office of the American Library Association. Her portfolio includes copyright, international copyright, accessibility, e-books, and other public policy issues. She has an MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MA in media arts from the University of Arizona. She authored two books on copyright including Complete Copyright: An Everyday Guide for Librarians and Educators, winner of the 2013 ABC-CLIO award for best book in library literature.
  • Tucker Taylor – is Head of Circulation at Thomas Cooper Library at the University of South Carolina; she has over 25 years of experience in library access services and regularly works with copyright issues. Tucker is a founder and co-editor in chief of Journal of Copyright in Education and Librarianship. She is also a founder and co-chair of South Carolina Library Association’s Scholarly Communications Interest Group. As a member of the University of South Carolina Libraries’ Scholarly Communications Team and the South Carolina Affordable Learning Task Force,  Tucker has provided copyright education for librarians and faculty throughout South Carolina. Tucker regularly presents on copyright, predatory publishing, and open access issues.

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The primary outcome of this project will be guidance for individuals and institutions for sustainable engagement with consumer-licensed content, as well as a plan of action for advocacy around related political and legal issues. This will be grounded in rigorous legal analysis to be published in scholarly articles, white papers, and best practice documents in the vein of the ARL’s Best Practices for Fair Use statements. The Journal of Copyright in Education & Librarianship is prepared to offer a special issue on the topic, featuring scholarship from leaders on copyright, licensing, and academic practice.

While these formal documents are critical for informing institutional practice, individuals in the field will need a different type of resource. This team will also create materials to support hands-on training, informal learning, and popular engagement. Members of this team have a strong track record of creating engaging, whimsical resources like ALA’s Office of Information Technology Policy (OITP) Section 108 Spinner, Fair Use Coasters, and Fair Use Evaluator. Other members have done similar work making complex issues approachable and fun through “Copyright First Responders” teams, ACRL Scholarly Communication Roadshow workshops, and multimedia resources.

In addition to formal legal and library-focused scholarship and popular resources, this team will begin to develop an advocacy plan for engaging with current legal challenges like the ReDigi case and Music Modernization Act. Library and academic advocacy has been effective in earlier cases such as the Supreme Court’s Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley decision and in the ongoing Copyright Office battle over orphan works and collective licensing, and this team will develop a plan to engage with content holders such as Netflix, Steam, and Hulu as a profession and to advocate for a clearer system that support scholarly communication at all levels of government. This will leverage the legal expertise of team members, as well as the political experience and connections of the team to the American Library Association and to international events such as Fair Use Week.

Individual members of this team have worked together in the past on events such as a preconference hosted by Courtney, Taylor, and Cross at the 2018 National Media Market and had informal conversations at a number of events over the past year, but the full team has never had the time or space to work together. All members are committed to beginning work over the summer, with in-person time available at the Kraemer Copyright Conference in June. The team will also gather digitally to begin developing resources for tracking legal developments, preparing overviews of relevant case law, and brainstorming engaging strategies for articulating and navigating the risks involved in this area. The team will arrive in October ready to clarify these complex issues and develop a plan that mitigates risk to make scholarly communication sustainable in a world dominated by commercial platforms.

[ Top photo by Dan Schiumarini used under Unsplash free license. Other photos from Pixabay used under CC0 license. ]

Findable, Citable, Usable, Sustainable: A Checklist for Rigorous Digital Publishing

This is the fourth in a series of posts about each of the teams that will be attending SCI 2018, and their projects. This one was submitted by Monica McCormick.

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What risk is your project trying to overcome?

The risks involved in digital scholarly publishing are manifold. Scholars fear their work that is inherently digital will not be assessed on the same level as the more traditional outputs of their colleagues, or that promotion and tenure committees will not know how to evaluate such work. Libraries and IT departments risk the long-term commitment of labor to create and maintain often bespoke digital publishing projects, which may be vulnerable to obsolescence or eventual disinterest by the original creators. Readers around the globe may be unable to find digital scholarship (because there is no reliable aggregator or index) or unable to access them (because they lack the technological infrastructure or bandwidth required). Taken together, these risks create significant barriers to scholars who wish to undertake novel digital work; to the organizations and institutions that seek to support this work; and to the full audience that may have interest in or benefit from the work. By identifying a broad set of criteria for digital scholarly projects, and articulating how those criteria may be implemented, we aim to support the creation of impactful, robust, and rigorous networked scholarship, readable by both humans and machines, that can be effectively sustained and reused, to enable more such scholarship in diverse settings that may answer questions not yet asked.

What is your project?

We believe that a rigorous, accessible, standards-based framework for digital scholarly publishing could mitigate these risks, yet no such framework exists. Working in our separate organizations with specific goals and constraints, we’ve each experienced the great difficulty in considering the many elements of a good digital publishing project or collection and the even greater challenge of implementing them. Drawing on our experiences and others’ in our communities, our Triangle SCI project is to identify the criteria for robust, impactful digital scholarly publishing and to transform that into a checklist, with standards, recommendations, best practices, and alternatives for each element. We will debate and document the criteria and standards that will constitute a flexible, robust framework, and to enable its widespread institutional adoption. We aim to lower the risks of digital publishing for libraries, presses, and scholars alike and to empower ourselves to create digital publishing (including digital humanities) projects that are more visible, more usable, universally accessible, and sustainable.

What are your goals for the project and your work at Triangle SCI 2018?

We want to create a useful tool for many kinds of projects, one that helps creators avoid common oversights and supports the development of impactful scholarship.

The outcome of our work together will be a detailed checklist that enables creators and collaborators to design and build their projects while bearing in mind all the elements they may want to consider. The checklist will also enable digital publishers to select platforms and identify tools that support or enable these criteria. Ideally, it will serve as a guide for platform developers, indicating desired elements and features that their tools should provide.

We anticipate that the checklist will address the following elements:

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  • Use of digital identifiers (URIs, handles, DOIs, ORCIDs, ARKs, etc.)
  • Rights (e.g., author’s rights, assets rights) and licenses (e.g., rightstatements.org, Creative Commons licenses)
  • Platforms (open source and proprietary; usability, migration, and preservation issues)
  • Genres/Project Types (typologies of digital publishing, ongoing vs. sunsetting)
  • Peer review (open, blind, other methods; indicators that peer review occurred)
  • Accessibility (availability, usability, disability)
  • Preservation (technical infrastructures, metadata guidelines, preservation strategy)
  • Discovery (in various discovery systems, for both humans and machines)
  • Metrics of use, engagement, and impact
  • Citation (identifying citable units, integration with citation tools)
  • Annotation (networked interaction with published projects)
  • Reuse (in terms of rights and of technical re-use via APIs, zipped files, etc.)

Our team will be working in advance of Triangle SCI to research existing standards and practices for each element, so that during our time together we can build out the checklist with consciousness of how these elements work together. We aim to produce a detailed draft that can then be shared, tested, and refined by the community.

Who are you, and how will your perspectives support the goals of the project?

We are a team of digital humanists, library and university press publishers, and digital scholarship librarians. We built our team to with an eye toward bringing critical stakeholders into the conversation: digital scholars, technologists, librarians, publishers, and other scholarly communication practitioners. We want our project to benefit from and reflect diverse experiences–diverse technologies, languages, geography, and training–to ensure a comprehensive and inclusive set of tools.

Nicky Agate is Assistant Director, Scholarly Communication & Projects at Columbia University, where her team works on a library publishing platform, the institutional repository, and digital humanities programming—and wishes that the proposed framework already existed. She has previously worked with digital humanists and others on issues of risk in scholarly communication:  digital identity, recognition for digital projects, and expanding the remit of scholarly communication to include research expressed in experimental and digital formats. The research she has conducted through HuMetricsHSS, an initiative seeking to establish a framework for values-based assessment and evaluation in the humanities and social sciences, will inform this team’s approach to indicating the impact and success of digital publication projects.

Cheryl E. Ball is Director of the Digital Publishing Collaborative at Wayne State University Libraries, after 14 years as a professor of rhetoric, writing, and publishing. Ball is editor of the longest continuously running, scholarly multimedia journal, Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, from which much of her published research on editorial workflows and digital publishing infrastructures has come. She is the Project Director for Vega, an open-access multimedia academic publishing platform and serves as the executive director of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. Through work with CELJ, Kairos, and consulting with other journals and presses, she has helped create best practices for e-journals and for accessibility in digital publishing, topics which she also teaches through KairosCamp.

Allison Belan is Associate Director for Digital Strategy and Publishing Systems at Duke University Press. After many years of managing Duke’s journals production workflow, and seeing the transition from a print-centric workflow to a format-flexible one, Belan assumed a role tasked with setting and aligning digital content practices across the press’s book and journal operations. She now works to align all aspects of the press’s digital publishing strategy and operations to build a digital presence that connects scholars and thinkers to press publications in ways that speed Duke UP’s scholarship to the world.

Monica McCormick is Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Publishing and Research at the University of Delaware Library, Museums & Press. After 16 years in university press publishing, primarily as an acquisitions editor at the University of California Press, she moved into libraries, spending the past ten years leading digital publishing projects and services at NYU Libraries and NYU Press, where she served as the managing editor of  MediaCommons, and project manager of a study into methods and tools for Open Peer Review and another to develop infrastructure for networked monograph publishing. Now at the University of Delaware, she leads a new division in the library that includes the University of Delaware Press and service teams for digitization, digital scholarship, repositories, research data, and copyright. She brings to the team deep knowledge of both traditional print and digital publishing, and a wide range of experience with scholars, technologists, and librarians.

Joshua Neds-Fox is Coordinator for Digital Publishing at Wayne State University Libraries. He helps guide the development and direction of the Libraries’ digital collections infrastructure and institutional repository, and collaborates with Wayne State UP to house their online journals. He serves on the Library Publishing Coalition Board of Directors, and is user-testing the LPC publishing curriculum modules created through an IMLS grant this past year.

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What are your plans for continuing the work of the project and spreading the word after Triangle SCI 2018?

To share this work after the institute, we plan on the following outreach efforts:

  • Publish our framework to an open-review platform, such as Humanities Commons, Comment Press, or simply Google Docs, and invite comments from practitioners around the world to see whether it addresses real needs effectively.
  • Present the framework for feedback at venues such as Library Publishing Forum, Association of University Presses, Society for Scholarly Publishing, Coalition for Networked Information, Modern Language Association, American Historical Association, Open Repositories, International Digital Curation Conference, KairosCamp.
  • Identify areas that need deeper development and make iterative improvements.
  • Develop a plan to test and pilot the framework at institutions of varying sizes and global locations to further refine it before making it more widely available.

[ Photos by Frederic Köberl, Ciprian Boiciuc, and Hitoshi Suzuki, used under Unsplash free license. ]
[Post edited on 28 August to adjust team composition, as one participant listed earlier is no longer able to attend.]

Promoting a Public Face for Scholarly Journals

This is the third in a series of posts about each of the teams that will be attending SCI 2018, and their projects. This one was submitted by Stephen Robertson.

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What can be done to expand the online presence of scholarly journals to promote broader public engagement with the research they publish?

Attacks on academic institutions generally and the humanities specifically have increasingly inspired scholars to make their work more accessible to the broader public. Many intend for their work to contribute to the pursuit of social justice and, as articulated by the African American Intellectual History Society, to “shed light upon and critically analyze issues of relevance to the public.” Online platforms are promising options for reaching such goals, both by supplementing and enhancing more traditional forms of scholarship and by revealing scholars’ research and writing processes.

Groups of scholars and professional organizations have already begun engaging the public online. Nursing Clio, Notches, NiCHE, and The Junto are among the leading scholar-driven blogs; the African American Intellectual History Society’s Black Perspectives and the Society for US Intellectual History’s USIH blog are prominent examples of online publications by organizations. Scholarly journals, however, have been slow to engage with emerging forms of scholarly communication beyond digital delivery of articles and have played a limited role in promoting public engagement with scholarship.

Online platforms for digital versions of print publications give many journals an online presence, but one restricted to subscribers and controlled by publishers not editors. Beyond articles, those sites provide only editorial information. Some journals have a social media presence, generally limited to broadcasting the contents of each new issue. A small number of journals have begun to develop websites outside the paywall to promote and expand on content: for example, The Panorama from the Journal of the Early Republic; the Journal of the History of Ideas blog, and The Docket, under development by the Law and History Review. None of these sites yet involve significant interaction with readers, however.

And yet, journals are uniquely positioned to make distinctive contributions to promoting public engagement; as publishers, they have access to scholarship that scholars and even scholarly organizations do not, and can, thus, more directly connect audiences with research. Journals also offer an umbrella that makes public engagement less ephemeral and more visible, and a less professionally risky undertaking for scholars.

What often holds academic journals and societies back from developing accessible, public content is that change involves risk as well as the investment of limited resources—financial as well as human. It requires the use of digital platforms and tools that currently may not be part of a journal’s portfolio. Content for such platforms often differs from what journals currently publish, making the support and management of such content challenging. Moreover, the effort required to launch such public facing initiatives is just the first step; they also must be maintained. While a handful of journals have successfully developed some form of public face, it is not enough to make the risks appear manageable to others who might otherwise be interested.

Photo of glowing statues at nightWe will explore what can be done to reduce risk in creating a public face for scholarly journals, using history journals as a case study. We will ask a variety of questions, including:

  • How could journals promote public engagement using existing platforms—websites; social media; audio and video media; and annotations—and practices—online material that expands on the content of articles and the research and methods they employ; forums that connect authors and readers; author interviews; content shaped for non-scholarly audiences; and content that engages with contemporary issues and discussions?
  • How could journals compliment and engage with other scholars and organizations promoting online public engagement?
  • What resources and training would make developing an online presence more efficient and effective?
  • How can we make an online presence that integrates public engagement and scholarly publication a pattern of scholarly communication expected of journals?
  • How can we set realistic metrics for success?
  • What kind of reach can be expected in a crowded media landscape?
  • Are there ways we can work together to expand this reach and support rather than compete with each other for reader attention?

Our team:

Lisa M. Brady is professor of History at Boise State University and editor in chief of Environmental History. Her research examines the intersection of war and environment and her current project is a history of conflict on the Korean peninsula over the course of the 20th century. As editor, she undertook the expansion of Environmental History’s supplemental website (www.environmentalhistory.net) and appointed its first dedicated Digital Content Editor to oversee such online-only features as “Field Notes,” peer-reviewed essays focused on the process and practice of doing environmental history. She also works closely with her publishing partners at Oxford University Press to promote the journal’s content through virtual issues (open access, drawn from articles previously published, curated around a timely issue) and other projects.

Liz Covart is the Digital Projects Editor for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture at the College of William and Mary. In 2014, she founded Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, which seeks to create wide-public awareness about early American history and the work of professional historians. As the OI’s Digital Projects Editor, she now produces and hosts Ben Franklin’s World for the OI and plays a leading role in the organization’s multi-platform and multimedia initiatives to engage multiple publics with scholarly early American history. These initiatives include creating podcast series to drive listeners to other OI media including articles in the William and Mary Quarterly and using the William and Mary Quarterly and other OI media to drive readers to the podcast. The OI Reader app makes these digital-to-print and print-to-digital efforts possible. It also makes it possible for the William and Mary Quarterly to publish native digital articles and articles with interactive components.

Seth Denbo is director of Scholarly Communication and Digital Initiatives at the American Historical Association, which has as a primary focus of its activities an interest in bringing historical knowledge to as wide an audience as possible. Over the past decade the association has promoted better engagement in public culture by historians, opportunities for historians working outside of academia, and better historical education more broadly. The Association uses its blog and other digital outlets to bring history to bear on contemporary society. Denbo has been involved with the association’s efforts to provide infrastructure for digital scholarship, including guidelines, training materials, workshops, etc. He also works closely the editor of the American Historical Review in exploring ways to engage to bring the scholarship in the journal to audiences outside the academy.

Robert Greene is a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Claflin University and the book review editor and contributing blogger for the Society of U.S. Intellectual Historians. As a member of S-USIH, Mr. Greene writes about African American and Southern intellectual histories, always with an eye towards writing for a public audience. In addition to his work at S-USIH, Greene has also contributed to the African American Intellectual History Society’s blog, Black Perspectives. He has also delivered papers at the first two AAIHS conferences, in Chapel Hill in 2016 and Nashville in 2017. Also, Mr. Greene has written for numerous public outlets, such as Dissent, Jacobin, Scalawag, The Nation, In These Times, and Politico. For all these outlets, and others, Mr. Greene has written about the intersection of history with current events and modern politics.

Catherine Halley is the editor-in-chief of JSTOR Daily (daily.jstor.org), an online magazine and newsletter published by JSTOR that provides scholarly context for news for a general, nonacademic reader. Based on the peer-reviewed, scholarly research available on JSTOR.org, JSTOR Daily (@JSTOR_Daily) stories encourage lifelong learners to take a deep dive into news headlines and/or a step back to discover the origin stories of topics as diverse as fake news and potato chips. The magazine covers a wide range of subjects from arts and culture to science and technology, and draws on scholarship from fields as diverse as physics and sociology. All readers get free access to the scholarship cited in JSTOR Daily stories. Halley has taught academics how to pitch editors at non-academic publications and specializes in cultivating wider audiences for academic and otherwise arcane knowledge. Prior to launching JSTOR Daily, Halley was the digital director at the Poetry Foundation, where she launched the popular Poetry from the Poetry Foundation mobile app and used technology and social media platforms to create a popular audience for poetry.

Stephen Robertson directs the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) at George Mason University, which uses digital media and computer technology to democratize history.  The Center collaborates with practitioners and audiences engaged with history in universities, schools, libraries, archives, museums, and communities. He is co-organizer of RRCHNM’s new annual conference and peer-reviewed online journal Current Research in Digital History. For his own project, Digital Harlem, Robertson has developed a blog to make the site accessible to users and present stories based on its contents. He also brings to the workshop extensive experience in developing and offering training in digital literacy and skills.

Follow-up Activities

The result of our meeting will be a guide to platforms and strategies for public engagement which we would disseminate online, and present at the journal editors’ breakfast at the 2019 American Historical Association conference. Depending upon the needs and approaches that emerge from our conversations, we could also pursue funding for workshops, online resources, and hosting and technical support to help journals create an online presence.

Prior to the Institute, we plan to undertake a survey of editors of historical journals through the American Historical Association and the Conference of Historical Journals to gather information on their specific interests, concerns, and needs in regards to developing a public online presence.

[ Photos by Alex and Steve Roe on Unsplash used under Unsplash free license. ]

TRANSPOSE – TRANsparency in Scholarly Publishing for Open Scholarship Evolution

This is the second in a series of posts about each of the teams that will be attending SCI 2018, and their projects. This one was submitted by Tony Ross-Hellauer.

Photo of a canoe in clear water


Journal policies shape Open Scholarship practices and safeguard against legal and ethical risks in publishing. Journal policies are an under-investigated element of Open Scholarship, however. This is unfortunate, since Open Scholarship requires publication policies that are aligned with its aims in order to reduce the transaction costs – and thereby career risks – for researchers that want to practice transparent, inclusive, and collaborative research. Such transaction costs are exacerbated by obscure or only implicitly stated journal policies; a lack of central resources to monitors such policies; and a lack of data-sharing from publishers regarding their publication processes. In the move towards Open Scholarship, researchers are expected to open up their research to transparency and scrutiny; the same should be expected of academic publishing.

TRANSPOSE (TRANsparency in Scholarly Publishing for Open Scholarship Evolution) is a new, grassroots initiative to address SCI 2018’s theme of overcoming risk:

  1. Risk to researchers: For researchers, and especially early career researchers, Open Scholarship means experimenting with new practices for the benefit of scholarship. Such experimentation may put researchers at risk of falling foul of review etiquette, or licensing agreements. This is especially true of those disciplines (such as some humanities disciplines) where such practices are less prevalent. Therefore publishers have a duty of care to inform and educate authors and reviewers about the terms under which they engage with those journals and the consequences of their choices. Obscure policies will often mean that researchers are unsure of their rights and may be dissuaded from innovation out of unfounded fears, thus putting the future of Open Scholarship at further risk.
  2. Risk to the scientific system: Healthy systems innovate, and scholarly publishing should innovate based on evidence. Yet since publisher internal processes are often a “black box” of proprietary information, it can be difficult for meta-research to take an evidence-based approach. Moreover, with current claims of a reproducibility crisis in many scientific disciplines and sky-rocketing publication rates, efficient movement towards Open Scholarship is required. Lack of clarity about Open Scholarship practices in journal policies, and authoritative evidence about the extent of their adoption, impedes such progress.

Such risks manifest themselves in a host of uncertainties. How do policies shape the adoption of Open Scholarship? Who can contribute, and who gets credit? What rights do authors have to post preprints, and when? Are peer review processes functioning as optimally as possible?

Photo of bridge and open skyTRANSPOSE will research these issues to: 1) make clearer to researchers the conditions of engaging in the academic publishing system through greater transparency on policies; 2) quantify the degree to which practices are currently supported to provide an evidential basis for future changes at the policy-level, and; 3) work to increase sharing of data about publisher-internal processes which bear on the quality and process of publication procedures. We’ll examine the following concrete issues:

  • Preprints: Researchers are often afraid of taking steps (such as posting a preprint) because the reaction from journals is unknown. Based upon our surveys (for example, re licensing) they tend to assume the worst: that journal policies regarding the acceptability of preprints, both as submissions and citations, are as conservative as possible. Therefore, the act of making policies and practices crystal clear helps authors to accurately predict outcomes and reduce risk. Furthermore, fears regarding social norms and practices (such as scooping) could be addressed with evidence of their true prevalence, especially as they relate to behaviours that are likely to be protective (ie, preprinting).
  • Unacknowledged reviewing: Early career researchers (namely graduate students and postdocs) may feel hesitant to contribute to peer review done in the name of their supervisor; and supervisors may not disclose names of others involved in review where journal policies suggest such common practices may have punitive consequences. Providing appropriate and ethical credit for their involvement would reduce their risk.
  • Extent of open peer review procedures: A recent meeting demonstrated widespread support for journals in the life sciences posting the contents of peer review. However, currently only 2% of them are doing so. Tracking these practices in one place over time will allow editors and publishers to reconsider practices to match those of their peers.
  • Data-sharing on journal processes: As ECR Libby Pier said in a recent blog post “Until there’s more data on [Open Peer Review] … I think scientists ought to be wary of donating their time and resources to an uncertain process. On the other hand, we can’t obtain more data on the effects of open peer review if we don’t have willing participants. And therein lies the paradox of OPR: We won’t know if it works until more of us try. So for the good of the future of scholarship, perhaps we need to be willing to participate in an experiment of our own collective making.” But ECRs shouldn’t need to expose themselves to risk like this – we need to foster more studies and hence enable an evidence-based approach to changes in processes.

To bring clarity to these issues, we will crowdsource a list of journal policies for (1) open peer review policies, (2) co-reviewer policies, and (3) pre-printing policies. We’ll then look at a representative subset of journals in more detail to systematically taxonomize and analyse their stated peer review and preprinting policies. These initiatives will then be complemented by a strategic discussion on how journals could be persuaded to improve their policies. As a final step, we will work to foster data-sharing in order to more systematically test how these innovations affect the quality and efficiency of scholarly communications, as well as their effects on researchers. These actions will mitigate the risks that adopters of innovative practices run, clarifying options and providing more evidence.

TRANSPOSE has already started and all are welcome to participate! https://transpose-publishing.github.io/

Photo of open sky seen through barn doorsGroup participants

Jessica Polka is Director of ASAPbio, a researcher-driven non-profit working to promote transparency and innovation in life sciences communication. With a background in biochemistry, cell biology and synthetic biology, Jessica has been advocating for the productive use of preprints in these disciplines and is heavily invested in tracking and encouraging policy changes. She recently co-organized a meeting on increasing transparency in peer review in the life sciences (asapbio.org/peer-review/summary). She brings to this project a desire to translate knowledge into community-driven actions that result in policy and cultural change. Jessica will bring her rich experience in community-organisation to bear in driving the crowdsourcing elements of the project, also contributing expert knowledge of the current landscape for preprints and open peer review.

Gary McDowell is Executive Director of Future of Research, a non-profit organization which wants to champion, engage and empower early career scientists with evidence-based resources to improve the scientific research endeavor. Gary currently studies aspects of the academic enterprise as they relate to early career researchers and how they carry out their scholarly work, with a particular focus on systemic workforce issues. Gary’s contribution to this project will be the particular focus on the recognition of scholarship of early career researchers through increased transparency in the peer review process, including efforts to make sure that all who participate in the peer review process and authorship of peer review reports are named as doing so.

Jennifer Lin is Director of Product Management at Crossref, a scholarly infrastructure provider, developing metadata services that make scholarly content easy to find, cite, link, and assess. Jennifer received her PhD in political philosophy and has served as an instructor at Johns Hopkins University. She previously worked for PLOS where she oversaw product strategy and development for research data sharing, article-level metrics, and open assessment initiatives. Jennifer’s role in the project is to provide technical resources for data collection and dissemination in the project as well as more broadly provide background context on the diversity of publishing practices (editorial and production) across publishers.

Benedikt Fecher heads the “Knowledge Dimension” research programme and the “Internet-Enabled Innovation” research unit at Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, Berlin. In his research he focuses on open science and open access infrastructures. In 2016, Benedikt was also a scientific advisor to the Leibniz Association on the subjects of open access and research data. He has been a mentor in the “Free Knowledge” fellowship for Open Science programme since 2017, supported by Wikimedia, the Stifterverband and the Volkswagen Foundation. Benedikt is also co-editor of the blog journal Elephant in the Lab, which critically engages with the science system and a member of the editorial board of the Open Access journal Publications. Benedikt will bring a social sciences perspective to the team, using theories from Science and Technology Studies to contextualise findings and produce policy recommendations.

Samantha Hindle is Content Lead at bioRxiv, a non-profit preprint server for the life sciences, and co-founder of PREreview.org, a preprint journal club review platform geared towards promoting the training (and acknowledgement) of early career researchers in peer review. Samantha has a background in Cell Biology and Neuroscience and, until recently, was an early career researcher herself. Samantha has seen the benefits of working openly through her involvement in the Mozilla Science Lab and OpenCon communities, and is passionate about enabling policy change that will align the current academic culture with Open Science practices. Samantha’s role in this project will be the focus on visibility of journal preprint and peer review (co-reviewer) policies to overcome the risks associated with pre-printing and engaging in open peer review.

Tony Ross-Hellauer is Senior Researcher in the department of Social Computing at Know-Center GmbH, Austria’s leading research centre for big data analytics and cognitive computing. Tony is Editor-in-Chief of the Open Access journal Publications, and his research on open peer review has received international recognition. He is actively involved in Open Science advocacy and community-building. His research interests include Open Science, new models and infrastructures for scholarly communications, science policy and ethics, alternative models for peer review, and philosophy of technology (in which field he completed his doctoral work). Tony’s contribution to this project will be the particular focus on the evidential basis of the benefits and risks of open peer review (especially for early career researchers) and the need for greater data-sharing to stimulate further research, as well as the broad ethical dimensions of the project more generally.

Photo of pentagonal view down a stairwell

[ Photos by Pahala Basuki on Unsplash used under Unsplash free license. ]

Creating Global Cognitive Justice

This is the first in a series of posts about each of the teams that will be attending SCI 2018, and their projects. This one was submitted by Tom Olijhoek.

A project to explore the language, access and epistemological barriers that put the equity, diversity and inclusiveness of OA scholarly communication at risk in Africa and other areas in the Global South

Photo of training session at the Université Catholique d'Afrique Centrale, Yaoundé. Cameroun

Image credit: Prof. Florence Piron, training session at the Université Catholique d’Afrique Centrale, Yaoundé. Cameroun

Defining the problem

Scientific research is not just about advancing knowledge. In today’s world, it is attempting to fulfill two other roles assigned to it by science policy: on the one hand, to contribute to the economic development of a country by generating marketable innovations (knowledge economy) and, on the other hand, to contribute to the common good of a society defined according to its priorities and needs (societal impact).

Word cloud of text about open access and knowledge in AfricaIn the Global South, which are plagued by many economic, political, environmental, social or energy problems, scientific research should and could offer a major contribution to the search for solutions. However, as several surveys (Alperin 2013; Gibs 1995) and statistics from commercial databases or from the DOAJ show, research is struggling to emerge in these countries: publications from universities in for example French-speaking Africa are very few, not very visible, not widely read, and so most African universities are more familiar with publications from the North than from their neighbors.

Among the explanations of this phenomenon that we want to explore together during the seminar, the hegemony of the English language on the scientific publishing system comes first (Panko 2017). Indeed, few graduate students, lecturers and professors from French-speaking Africa (where university education is taught in French) are proficient in English. That situation prevents them from fully understanding publications in this language or from publishing articles in English-language journals, the most visible on the web right now.

For researchers, choosing to produce knowledge in their own languages would allow them not only to integrate within it the local world vision and knowledge, but also to maximize the use of this knowledge by their fellow citizens, whether in Economics, Public Service or Civil Society.

The domination of the English language in the publication system entails  a serious risk for researchers from the Francophone Global South (Hountondji 1994, 2001). They want or are expected by their university to publish away from their language and therefore from their first public, their fellow citizens. In so doing, they target an Anglophone public that is not  necessarily interested in their research topics or their way to approach it. The same situation exists in other language areas.

Language, knowledge sharing and Open Access

The two major problems encountered in global scholarly communication are:

1) Cognitive injustice linked to language hegemony
The concept of cognitive justice, stemming from the reflections of the Indian anthropologist Shiv Visvanathan designates an epistemological, ethical and political ideal aimed at the emergence and the free circulation of knowledge that is socially relevant all over the planet, not just in the North. The current system favors the circulation of knowledge present in English language publications.Graphic of which countries academic knowledge comes from2) Bias in scholarly knowledge production,  (open) access and preservation

Because of the emphasis on publishing in English language journals from the Global North, knowledge in other languages and indigenous knowledge from Global South countries is much underrepresented in the total Global Knowledge output. Open Access is often seen as a way to promote equity in knowledge, but it also bears the hidden risk of serving continued global dominance of the Northern science system maintaining the invisibility of African science, seldom digitized or in open access (Piron 2017).

Expected Outcome

Our project aims at finding ways to promote the accessibility of local and indigenous knowledges starting with  the Francophone Global South in order to bring more equity, diversity and inclusiveness in scholarly communication.

A reference point for the project  is the project SOHA (Open science in Haiti and Africa as a tool of cognitive justice and collective empowerment) (Piron 2016) and the book published on the outcomes of SOHA ( Piron et al, 2016).

We want to seek collaboration with other communities like the Creative Commons Global Network (https://network.creativecommons.org/) and the OCSD Network (https://ocsdnet.org/)  in order to work with the people concerned in this project as much as possible from the beginning onward. In particular, we are very interested in the potential of multilingualism as a means of countering the hegemony of one language over others.

The other problem that we want to explore together from our varied positions in the academic world is the fascination exerted on scholars from the Global South  by the center of the science world-system, especially the whole system of promotion based on journals with impact factor that is increasingly also imposed in French-speaking countries. Is it possible to propose an alternative system of promotion based on other quality criteria? We want to write an advocacy paper in French asking to give up the impact factor  as evaluation criteria, in line with the San Francisco Declaration on Scientific Assessment(DORA: https://sfdora.org/).

Our proposed deliverables at the end of the seminar are:

  • A global paper called provisionally “Institutionalized diglossia in Francophone African science : risks and solutions”, in French and in English to be submitted to the journals Science, Technology and Human Values et Anthropologie des connaissances.
  • An advocacy paper critical of the impact factor cult, for The Conversation (Africa, the English and French editions)
  • 2 blog posts on the DOAJ website (in English and French)
  • 2 blog posts in French on the Scienceafrique.org future platform (one of the projects that we want to present to each other and discuss during the seminar)
  • A guide to article publications in Open Access intended for African francophone scholars
  • Promotion of non-English journals and developing / adopting new ways for the assessment of scientific quality *
  • Contribute to establishing scholarly knowledge as a commons by default through the promotion of Open Access publishing

* This would entail the creation and support of French-speaking African journals and archiving of Francophone African Science in a multilateral  open repository. We would also like to promote the Directory of Open Access Journals as the global  list of quality open access journals (Olijhoek et al. 2015), currently accepted in many parts of the world.

Our Team

Our team will bring together multiple disciplines and perspectives:

Florence Piron

Florence Piron is an anthropologist and ethicist, a professor in the Department of Information and Communication at Laval University where she teaches critical thinking through courses on ethics and democracy. She is the founding President of the Association for Science and Common Good and its open access publishing house, Éditions science et bien commun. She has been responsible for the SOHA project (open science in Haiti and French-speaking Africa) from 2015 to 2017 and is now leading a research-creation project in theatrical writing and an action-research project on science shops in French-speaking Africa and Haiti. She publishes numerous books with her students, particularly the series Portraits de femmes and Québec as open city.

Kamel Belhamel

Kamel Belhamel holds a PhD in the Process Engineering and Electrochemistry from the University of Setif since 2005.  He is currently  a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Bejaia in Algeria (ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9099-8040) He has taken part in several international projects such as: German – DAAD project, French- Algerian framework programme CMEP and co-ordinator of several Algerian national research projects. From January 2018,  He is  DOAJ Managing Editor for North Africa and Middle East countries ( https://doaj.org/about).

Zakari Lire

Zakari LIRE (Burkina Faso), MA in information sciences, is a PhD student in public communication at Université Laval. He has been working for two decades for CAMES (African and Malagasy Council for Higher education) as Chief Librarian and manager of the quality insurance in higher education program. Since 2017, in collaboration with the Department of Information and Communication of Université Laval, he has been actively involved in the implementation of a project entitled “DICAMES” which promotes open access to publications within Francophone Africa through a digital gateway. He is co-author a several papers, including “Le libre accès vu d’Afrique francophone subsaharienne”, Revue française des sciences de l’information et de la communication(2017).

Aurélie Fichot

Aurélie Fichot is a research engineer in scientific and technical information, documentation and heritage collections, responsible for resources and documentation engineering. She is Head of the Documentation Centre of Sciences Po Grenoble (France) and is in charge of Mir@bel for Sciences Po Grenoble, co-founder (2009) and member of the steering committee of this free and open network which facilitates access to electronic journals, mainly for French-language ones on social sciences and humanities. She also actively participates in the Sign@l network, a free and open database reporting the content of French-language journals in the humanities and social sciences.

Tom Olijhoek

Tom Olijhoek has been living and working  in Africa for more than 7 years  doing research into tropical and exotic diseases during much of his career. He has spent several years in Africa (Kenya, Algeria) doing research on malaria, sleeping sickness and meningococcal epidemics. Since 2012 he is advocating open access and open science as Open Access working group coordinator for Open Knowledge International (https://okfn.org/).  Since 2014 he is Editor in Chief at the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ: https://doaj.org/). From January 2018 his main task has become managing of the global DOAJ ambassador programme and global outreach activities including connecting to other open communities like the Creative Commons Global Network and OCSD Net.

Zoé Aubierge Ouangré

Zoé Aubierge Ouangré is a lecturer in information science at the University of Koudougou (Burkina Faso). She is about to defend her doctoral thesis in information science at the University of Montreal where she is also participating in the teaching programme. Her research project focuses on the informational behavior of medical students in Burkina Faso. She is particularly interested in the access to scientific information and the difficulties encountered in this respect by students and lecturers of French-speaking universities in Africa. She is a member of the APSOHA (Association for the Promotion of Open Science in Haiti and Africa).


[ Post edited on 26 September to reflect a change in one of the team members. ]